Cabinet ministers have ridiculed hardline Tory Brexiteer MPs opposed to Theresa May’s EU deal, comparing them to ‘mid-fifties swingers’ who dream of hooking up with Hollywood stars.
In a surreal exchange during their weekly cabinet meeting in Downing Street, the PM’s top team mocked backbenchers who believe that they could get a better deal if they vote down her plan next week.
During a discussion on why May’s proposals were the best on offer, environment secretary Michael Gove joked that her critics were “like mid-50s swingers waiting for Scarlett Johansson to turn up”.
Fellow minster Amber Rudd, interjected: “On the theme of everyday sexism, Pierce Brosnan as well.”
And following Rudd’s reference to the former James Bond star, justice secretary David Gauke quipped that Labour’s own unworkable alternative was like “waiting for Scarlett…on a unicorn”.
May joined in the laughter at the gags, with one source saying: “It was a humorous moment.”
Asked about the ‘swingers’ exchanges, the PM’s official spokesman simply smiled but did not deny them.
“I suspect the [Cabinet] minute will not reflect that,” he said.
But the meeting was also dominated by the more serious business of several ministers stepping up their own warnings to May that they would not tolerate a no-deal Brexit.
Rudd said history would take a “dim view” of the cabinet if they allowed the UK to crash out of the EU without an agreement with Brussels.
The work and pension secretary also again called for Parliament to be allowed to debate and vote on other options, saying: “More than ever we need to find the centre, reach across the House and find a majority for what will be agreed.”
And home secretary Sajid Javid warned a disorderly Brexit would undermine efforts to return to Europe migrants who made unfounded asylum claims.